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The Task That Lay Ahead

One of the finest (and historic) fruits of the decades-old deliberations of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) is their Seattle Statement issued in 2005: "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ." Here is one part of their reflection:

The word of God delivered by Gabriel addresses Mary as already "graced," inviting her to respond in faith and freedom to God's call. The Spirit is operative within her in the conception of the Savior, and this "blessed among women" is inspired to sing "all generations will call me blessed." Viewed eschatologically, Mary thus embodies the "elect Israel" of whom Paul speaks -- glorified, justified, called, predestined.This is the pattern of grace and hope which we see at work in the life of Mary, who holds a distinctive place in the common destiny of the Church as the one who bore in her own flesh "the Lord of Glory." Mary is marked out from the beginning as the one chosen, called, and graced by God through the Holy Spirit for the task that lay ahead of her.

The text, with excellent commentaries and study guide, edited by Donald Bolen and Gregory Cameron, is published by Continuum.Blessed feast of Our Lady.

  

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Also, the full text (no commentaries or guide) is available here:http://www.pro.urbe.it/dia-int/e_dialogues.html

Theres an everydayness to the setting of the painting, which seems to offset (complement?) the idea that Mary holds a distinctive place or is marked out from the beginning, almost implying that, every day, we must decide if we will let it be done, crazy as the it may sound.

An "everydayness" also because setting the scene in Flanders (I assume?) makes the universality of the message far more real than trying to resurrect the appearance of an ancient Israel of the imagination, because "that's where it really happened." The day, though specifically a Catholic feast, should remind us all (as ARCIC points out above), that the role of Our Lady should be a cause for unity and commonalities, rather than an ideological weapon distinguishing us from our fellow Christians. Jaroslav Pelikan's "Mary" does a pretty good job of this.

This is as good a place as any to ask anyone if they have read Colm Toibin's "The Testament of Mary," and, if so, what is your reaction to it? It's a short 80 page "novella." In my days we would have called it a short story, but you can't get $20 for a short story, I guess.